Dear weight-loss industry,
I say this after WeightWatchers had charged me for the month of May, after I’ve gone to the gym and did better with cardio than I’ve done in five years, and my scale is telling me that I’ve been steadily putting pounds on back to my Very Sick time period, even though my pants, which had fit me pretty tightly for about a year, began to get loose.
I say this to you after I see, with my own eyes, that my figure is leaner than it has been before my thyroid has gone to hell, and somehow the more important thing is my BMI, which will never show me as “healthy”, because I weigh more than what is ascribed at my height, even though if I go below 170 lbs, my ribs will stick out.
I say this after the countless Shop jobs I see in every single smiling gym advert. I’m a graphic designer and photographer; I know a Shop job when I see one, and I don’t buy shop-job ads, but I get to overhear girls ten years younger than me – sometimes fifteen years – in the locker room saying that they want to look just like the girl in the poster for the gym ad, even though they’re slimmer and more fit than I have been since my own teens.
I say this after I killed about six hundred dollars grand total on WeightWatchers telling me to do what I have been doing already anyway, six hundred dollars that could’ve paid off a bill or three, that could’ve gone into my savings, but instead paid for a subscription to a service that basically put me on the diet that I’ve fallen into already when I graduated college and began earning enough to buy real food.
Nowadays, I work out more for strength and stress relief than I do for actual weight loss. I’ve long accepted than I will likely never be below a size 12 again, even though I dipped to a size 10 before stress began to eat me alive. I work out for the endorphin and serotonin spikes, because by the time I get off the elliptical, I feel like I’m on top of the world, and the fact that I don’t feel winded sprinting up the subway stairs is a bonus. And of course, the strength training – I love pushing my already pretty formidable strength to the next level.
But I very deeply resent the fact that there’s basically an entire industry geared to telling people, men and women alike, that they’re somehow “not enough” unless they lose weight or look like a poster, when not even the people in the poster look like the poster, honestly. There’s a Walgreen’s across from my gym, and there’s a section of an aisle equal to the cold/flu section devoted to nothing but diet pills, which, let’s face it, do much more harm to a person than their manufacturers would care to admit. The entertainment industry has The Biggest Loser, which is based on people striving towards their best weight, but what the show will never tell you is that these people all gain back the weight they lose, because once they go back to their usual lives, they do not have anywhere near as much time to work out as they did while filming the show. Because that’s just not “glamorous”, amirite?
I was at the doctor’s on Thursday, and this was the first time in years that she didn’t have a word to say about my numbers. My thyroid is kaput, yes, but my glucose levels are perfect, my cholesterol is ideal, no vitamin deficiencies – first time in years. And yet, because my scale quotes a number that’s not someone’s idea of perfect, hello good morning, here come the judgey ads, posters, diet pills, and folks at my gym who, bless ’em, are trying to recruit me to get a personal trainer. Which I’ll do anyway, but not to lose weight – for strength and endurance instead.
I think I’d rather, at this point in time, tell the weight-loss industry to screw off and do my own thing. Work out twice, three times a week and break my records for weights or reps, go on long walks, eat what I please in moderation and when I’m hungry only, and not pay a program to tell me that I’m eating too much in points. Whatever. Screw points. I don’t particularly like sweets, but I shouldn’t be guilted into ignoring them on the occasion I feel like having an apple tart a la mode. I don’t like heavy foods either, but I do like a burger once a month. And if I do lose some weight, then you know what,that’s cool. But if I don’t, then you know what, it’s not like I wasn’t awesome when I was bigger than what I am now. Awesomeness doesn’t depend on pounds or clothing sizes.
And certainly it doesn’t depend on a program telling me something.